Private clubs are targeted by anti-graft campaign

Updated: 2013-12-24 01:31

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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China's top anti-corruption agency has pledged to crack down on extravagance and excess formality that takes place discreetly at private clubs.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China issued a regulation on Monday that requires all government officials not to attend banquets and recreational activities at private clubs — the new strongholds of corruption.

In recent years, the facilities of some public parks and historic sites have been transformed into private clubs, where government officials secretly continue their extravagant lifestyles and even conduct power-for-money deals despite anti-graft calls from the Party's Central Committee, the commission said.

To contain the corruption, the commission urges officials to promise not to appear at such luxury clubs or accept membership cards.

However, it's difficult to identify such corruption because of the clubs' secret locations, an anti-corruption expert said.

"It's really hard to expose this kind of luxury club as they are usually hidden in public parks," said Zhu Lijia, professor at Chinese Academy of Governance. "How to differentiate extravagant activities at public expense from private family dinners is another issue."

Zhu said such a regulation is in line with the "eight-point" rules against extravagance and excessive public spending, which the CPC Central Committee presented last December.

A total of 19,896 Party and government officials had been punished as of late October for breaking the rules, and the commission has exposed more than 20 typical violations of the rules across the country since March, a CCTV report said.

In one of the cases, eight officials with the local transportation bureau in Putian, Fujian province, were suspended for spending 7,064 yuan ($1,163) on a luxurious dinner at a private club earlier this year.

Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said in a CCTV interview that more details on defining such corrupt practices at private clubs should be added to the regulation so enforcement will be easier.

Zhu agreed, saying local authorities should thoroughly investigate the operation of private clubs.

"Some clubs without business permits or that illegally encroach on public land need to be clamped down on," Zhu said.